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Street Fiction  

Last Updated: Nov 2, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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We are convinced that through access to stories that illuminate an African American culture that is as rich as it is diverse in stories and characters, we will create a gateway to literacy and learning that will feed the soul as well as engage the mind. We give kids access to culturally specific books in order to (1) increase the amount of reading by African American children, (2) foster a love for reading, and thus (3) raise their reading abilities and confidence.

ESSENCE: Do you consider yourself to be a role model?

Nikki Turner: I don't. But I do feel as if I have a responsibility to add powerful life lessons and positive messages to my stories. I don't glamorize street life, and I'm candid about the dangers of the lifestyle. I try to show my readers they always have options.

ESSENCE: How do you respond to critics who say that street fiction is often poorly written and an attempt by publishers to make money off our pathology?

Nikki Turner.: Urban lit touches on many ugly issues that we as a society don't like to discuss. It's easier to condemn it than to recognize that this lifestyle does exist. These are all issues that go on in our day-to-day lives. No matter where you live or what background you come from, these subjects exist and no one is immune. I don't glorify "the game," but I do tell an honest story, and some people can't handle that. What I think critics forget is that while they may not like the subjects urban-lit writers cover, there is always a positive side-our books are encouraging our people to read.

(From "Contemporary black lit is not dead. It’s just not limited to just one viewpoint as it had been in the past. This evolution has meant that readers, who might not have had a choice in the type of stories they wanted to see (particularly those from speakers that looked like them), now have stories they can relate to. However, that doesn’t mean that lovers of the old school black authors should fret: Those authors aren’t going anywhere. They win awards, they are the ones people prefer to highlight in most mainstream black magazines and they will be continue to be touted by every respectable Negro with dreadlocks and a college degree"

(From for a very long time in black literature, the stories of the less affluent have been dominated by whose only connection to those people they wrote about was what they read in a newspaper or a sociology book in college.  It was important for these writers to take control over their own stories. It’s one thing to read Push (aka “Precious”) from a social worker, looking from the outside and possibly from bias lenses, but it’s another to read a story written in the proper syntax, including poor grammar and spelling, from the sources themselves.

( interviw w Zane) A common misconception is that my books are about sex. I think my books are really about life. The sex is literally the last thing I write when composing a book. I write the rest of it first, and then go back and fill in the sex scenes.

(media bistro interview w Zane) Honestly, the majority of my books have a much deeper premise to them. It just so happens that I do not tone down sex


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